Unique is one of the emptiest words in the English language. It means, as I’m sure you all know, one of a kind. Something is unique if there’s nothing else like it. The problem is everything that is is unique in some way. (There were a lot of is’s in that sentence)

People are sure to point out that things that are mass produced are not unique, but those people are wrong. Take nails as an example. You can take two nails made from the same material that are the same size and weight. The fact that there are two of them makes them each unique. One occupies this space and the other occupies that space. Nothing else is a thing that occupies that space. They were made at different times. Nothing else is a thing made at that instant. Etc. Etc.

So, if everything is unique, why do we bother having a word for it? It’s because some things are more unique than others. Everything is unique in many ways, but not everything is strikingly unique. Every snowflake is famously unique, but they all look the same to me. However, if one green snowflake fell from the sky, that snowflake would be strikingly unique. It would be unique in an obvious way.

Some people will cringe when I say this, but to do any real work, unique needs an adverb. Everything is unique, but not everything is very unique. Nor is everything mildly unique. Some things are barely unique. Others are obviously unique. I think you get the idea.

Why am I writing about this? Well, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about today. But I also want to reassure everyone who has ever been chastised for saying something is really unique. You grasped the vagueness of a term and made it better, a little more precise. Good job.

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